Recommended age group: 11–12
Time required: two 45–60 minute sessions
Equipment: Play by the rules activity sheets, benches, cones or markings for an area, bibs and netballs or similar.


This lesson focuses on rules, which ensure the Spirit of Sport is maintained, and is centred on the Olympic Value of respect. Young people will understand that whether they are a player, coach, leader, captain or spectator, fair play and adhering to the spirit of the rules is crucial. This lesson will encourage young people to understand respect in a competitive sporting context - respecting the sport or activity in which they are playing, other participants (e.g. team mates, coaches, opponents and officials) and themselves.

This lesson has two parts to it, part one is classroom based and part two is a practical activity. Young people will have meaningful discussions, make links to everyday laws in society and from this they will create 'Spirit of Sport' mind maps in small groups. Through playing Bench/Zoneball young people will understand respect for sports equipment, the importance of a balanced competition and will learn how to play using different rules. They will celebrate and recognise the achievement of others by awarding various badges. This lesson is a brilliant introduction to respect: a value key to the Spirit of Sport.

Part 1: Classroom activity

  1. Start the lesson with a whole-class discussion of why we need rules in sport and life. Use the following key questions to prompt your discussions and/or the first three sections of the Rules and Respects Questions activity sheet.
    1. What rules do you have to follow every day at school?
    2. What rules do you follow at home?
    3. What rules do you follow when you go shopping?
    4. How do you feel if someone breaks a rule and it affects you? (For example, if someone jumps in front of you in line for lunch and they then run out of your favourite pasta?)
    5. Do sports have rules? Why do you think they have them? What would it be like if there weren’t any?
    6. What do we mean by 'fair play'? And what would be 'unfair' play?
  2. Split pupils into groups and give each group a different Role in Sport card (Leader, Coach, Player, Captain, Spectator, and Umpire).
  3. In groups, young people come up and write down all the rules and behaviours their role must show or adhere to while being involved in sport. Each group can feed back their findings.
  4. Now young people are familiar with the behaviours and rules in sport, they can work together to devise a Spirit of Sport mind map similar to the example provided. On their Spirit of Sport mind map young people can show all the sporting behaviours they want to experience through sport and give examples for each one. There is an extra mind map provided with a word bank for learners who may require extra support.

Part 2: Practical activity

This activity can be delivered through any sporting or practical activity where teams are competing against each other. Bench/Zoneball is an energetic team game which can have many variations of rules. It can be played either using a bench or using a marked-out area called a 'zone'.

  1. Split the class into equal teams and encourage them to talk about all the rules they know of for playing Bench/Zoneball. Give out the Bench/Zoneball information sheet and check everyone's understanding of the game.
  2. Come together as a whole class to decide on three to five rules which will be adhered to during your game. Inform the class that they have the responsibility for nominating each other for an achievement award at the end of the lesson.
  3. Give each team an area to play in and set them off to play games against another team. Provide any non-participants with the Assistant Referee activity sheet to give them responsibility for rewarding fair play and sportsmanship during the games. 
  4. Stop teams at an appropriate time to give them a team talk and give each team the task of introducing a new rule to their game such as:
    1. Each team must make four passes before they can score.
    2. If a player has the ball they cannot move their feet apart to change direction.
    3. A goal is only valid if the goalie catches the ball when on the bench (not whilst falling off) or with all body parts within the zone.
    4. You can use Bench/Zoneball - add a rule cards to help with this.
  5. Rotate teams around to play a new opponent and highlight how they must show respect for each other by listening and agreeing on a new set of rules for their games at the start of every match.

Print off a number of the Respect Achievement badges as badges or stickers at the start of the lesson. As a lesson plenary, in their teams, give young people the task of nominating a peer to receive an achievement badge. Encourage young people to recognise and celebrate each other's achievements and explain why they have chosen to award their peer with the badge or sticker. You, as the teacher, could also hand out a special 'Respect' badge or sticker to someone you think has worked particularly well and hard during the lesson.

Website links


  • Part one: To extend the more able, ask the young people to circle the behaviours and values that they feel are especially important to them. If time permits have a group discussion to identify similarities, differences and potential reasons for these.
  • Ask young people to work individually or in a team with the My Rules template to write their own set of rules and expectations for a PE lesson. Show young people the following examples:
    • Do everything that was asked of them during the class time without complaint.
    • Show good sportsmanship by helping others out.
    • Be a positive role model.
    • Leave a confrontation by not acting on an impulse or instinct.
    • Solve a problem in a mature way.
    • Pack away equipment and be helpful.
  • Challenge young people further by asking them to design a poster for the sports hall to reinforce the importance of rules and then ask them to think about rules in other areas of their life and everyday experiences. Using the Questions card young people can take it in turns to ask each other questions relating to rules in sport and life and answer them.
  • Provide the Play By the Rules activity guide as a take-home task for students to reflect on their learning with a simple drawing-based game at home.